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Self censorship and the New York Times: Get Religion, December 5, 2012 December 5, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Al Qaeda, Free Speech, Get Religion, Islam, Persecution.
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An International Herald Tribune report about Pakistan seems a bit confused as to what constitutes sectarian violence. Written under the title “Christian Aid Worker Is Shot in Pakistan” the article from the New York Times’ international edition ties together three different stories in one article. But it does not want to say why.

This story with a dateline of Hong Kong is a compilation of Pakistani press reports and wire service bulletins. As per its ethical reporting standards, the Times‘ man acknowledges his debt to these sources, though he did make a few phone calls to provide some original material to the stories. As this is a first report on the incidents I am not that concerned with how complete it is or if all the facts are properly nailed down. My interest in in how the reporter laid out his story given what he had in hand.

And it is the construction of the article and the unwillingness to state the obvious that leads me to say the Times has lost the plot.

The shooting of Swedish missionary, an attack on a Ahmadiya graveyard, and the kidnapping of a Jewish-American aid worker all have something in common (it is called militant Islam) but the Times’ reporter appears at a loss as to how to put the pieces together. Last month the New York Times brought on board as its CEO Mark Thompson, the former Director General of the BBC. It also appears to have taken on board Thompson’s policy of treating Islam with kid gloves.

Here is the lede:

HONG KONG — A Swedish woman doing charity work through her evangelical church was shot outside her home in Lahore on Monday, according to news reports from Pakistan. A gunman riding a motorcycle fired at the 72-year-old woman as she got out of her car in the upscale Model Town neighborhood.

It was not immediately clear whether the attack was sectarian in nature or was perhaps linked to another event Monday in Model Town in which masked gunmen vandalized a cemetery.

The article then goes into the details as they were known of the attack and then links to the second subject with this transitional sentence:

But early Monday morning in Model Town, gunmen tied up the caretakers of an Ahmadi cemetery and desecrated more than a hundred grave markers, the Express Tribune newspaper reported.

The Times gives details of the attack on the graveyard, notes that Ahmadiya Muslims are “considered heretical by mainstream Muslims”, and recounts past terror attacks and government fostered discrimination against the Ahmadiyas.

The story closes with the tale of a kidnapped American aid worker Warren Weinstein seized by al Qaeda last year. Details of Mr. Weinstein’s plight are offered and a quote from an earlier Times story is offered.

Mr. Weinstein, now 71, also appeared in a video in September, embedded below, in which he appeals for U.S. acceptance of the Qaeda demands. At one point he addresses Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, saying:

Therefore, as a Jew, I’m appealing to you, Prime Minister Netanyahu, the head of the Jewish state of Israel, one Jew to another, to please intervene on my behalf. To work with the mujahideen and to accept their demands so that I can be released and returned to my family.

These three stories share the common theme of extremist Muslim violence against religious minorities in Lahore: Christians, Ahmadiyas and Jews. What then is the problem I have with this article, you might ask?

Look at the second sentence of the story.

It was not immediately clear whether the attack was sectarian in nature or was perhaps linked to another event Monday in Model Town in which masked gunmen vandalized a cemetery.

The choices the Times is offering the reader are: a) the shooting of the Christian missionary was a sectarian act; or b) it was not a sectarian act but somehow linked to the attack by Salafist Muslims against an Ahmadiya graveyard. Perhaps I am thick but I do not see the distinction between a and b. Are they not both sectarian attacks?

And by adding in Mr. Weinstein’s case, which also took place in Lahore and also has a religious element — an American Jew being held captive by Muslim extremists who is forced to make a plea to the Israeli prime minister for his life — the militant Islam links are all there. But the Times does not want to connect the dots.

Why? Maybe the author was in a rush to get something into print quickly and mangled his syntax. Or is this an example of the Times‘ stifling political correctness? Is the Times heading the way of the BBC and self-censoring its stories?

In March 2012 the Daily Telegraph carried a short item reporting on Mark Thompson’s decision not to broadcast a show that might be offensive to Muslims.

Although the BBC was willing to disregard protests from Christians who considered its decision to broadcast Jerry Springer: The Opera as an affront, Mark Thompson, its outgoing director-general, is more wary of giving airtime to Can We Talk About This?, the National Theatre’s examination of how Islam is curtailing freedom of speech.

Lloyd Newson, the director of the DV8 physical theatre company which staged the new work, challenged Thompson to screen his production during a platform discussion at the theatre.

He pointed out that Jerry Springer: The Opera was a lot more controversial because it was a “satire”, whereas his work, consisting of a series of comments and factual statements set to dance, is “a factual piece”.

Thompson’s spokesman tells me: “We are currently working with the National on various ideas. There are currently no plans to broadcast Can We Talk About This?, but this is not due to the play’s content or themes.”

In the past, Thompson has conceded that there is “a growing nervousness about discussion about Islam”. He claimed that because Muslims were a religious minority in Britain, and also often from ethnic minorities, their faith should be given different coverage to that of more established groups.

Has more than Mark Thompson crossed the Atlantic from London? While the Times has long been a bastion of PC reporting, its aping of the BBC’s supine stance on Islam is disappointing. The hiring of Mark Thompson did not cause the New York Times to engage in self-censorship on Islam — but I suspect courage will not be one of the strengths he will bring to his new post.

First posted in GetReligion.

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Arab Spring a security threat to Britain, Defence Chief warns: The Church of England Newspaper, December 23, 2011 p 6. December 23, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Al Qaeda, British Foreign Policy, Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Islam.
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General Sir David Richards

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Arab Spring could lead to outbreaks of Islamist unrest in Britain, the Chief of the Defence Staff has warned.

In a lecture given to the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) on 14 December 2011,General Sir David Richards said radicalization born of the regime changes across the Middle East might well pose a domestic security threat for the U.K.

However, the collapse of the euro was Britain’s most immediate danger.  “I am clear that the single biggest strategic risk facing the UK today is economic rather than military,” Sir David said.

“This is why the eurozone crisis is of such huge importance,” he said, as “no country can defend itself if bankrupt.”

In his year in review address to the RUSI, the defence chief highlighted Britain’s strategic risks and opportunities.  The United States’ new strategic focus on Asia had lead to a refinement of the special relationship between the U.S. and U.K.  “I know this does not mean it will turn its back on Europe and NATO but countries this side of the pond need to think through what this means to us,” he said.

“NATO is the bedrock of our security,” Sir David said, and had “guaranteed peace in Europe for 60 years and, as Libya and Afghanistan demonstrate, enables us to project power efficiently in concert with others to pursue our national interests.”

But a changing world will see “new groupings” emerge.  “The most obvious is our alliance with the French,” he said, adding that military ties were now stronger than the “Entente Cordiale of a century ago.”

The military alliance with France was a “vehicle for joint action.  Libya sealed this for us and demonstrated the benefits to Britain, Europe and NATO of having a solid Franco-British core.”

He added that the UK “will require other carefully chosen alliances over the coming decade through which to influence the strategic landscape and help determine the outcome of fast moving crises, all at minimum cost. “

The nature of the risks facing Britain was also changing. “What is happening in Syria is in many experts view becoming a proxy conflict between Shia Iranians and Sunni Arabs,” Sir David said.

There was also the “risk that the Arab awakening leads to fissures and internal conflict that could be exported, including militant Islamism,” he said.

Departing from his prepared speech the general added that militant Islam and the Arab world have “diasporas reaching back to this country, as does Pakistan and other states struggling with instability.”

New terror warning from Pakistani bishop: The Church of England Newspaper, June 18, 2010 p 6. June 25, 2010

Posted by geoconger in Al Qaeda, Church of England Newspaper, Church of Pakistan, Terrorism.
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The Rt. Rev. Ijaz Inayat

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Bishop of Karachi reports that Islamic Jihadist groups in Pakistan are attempting to recruit poor Christians for use in terror attacks.

On June 12, the Rt. Rev. Ijaz Inayat wrote to supporters in the West that “Jihadist militant organizations” acting in concert with rogue elements of the Pakistani government were “recruiting poverty stricken Christians to be trained and used as Militants.”

Jihadists have “previously recruited, trained and used such poor people from the Muslim back grounds from the slums of Pakistan” for use as suicide bombers.  However these “Christians converted to Islam will be used to target the Churches” and Pakistani Christians, he said.

The use of financial incentives to recruit then radicalize Christian converts to Islam will serve as a propaganda tool for the Jihadists, Bishop Inayat said.  “Since their identity will not be altered in documents it is feared that some of them will be apprehended and presented in the world media to nullify the impression that Muslim militants are not the only source of militancy,” he said.

He urged the security services in Pakistan and the West to be on the lookout for this new breed of terrorist.

Violence against Pakistan’s religious minorities has focused not only on Christians, but on Hindus, Sikhs and members of minority Muslim groups.  On May 28, Jihadists attacked two mosques in Lahore during Friday prayers, killing 94 members of the Ahmadi community.

The Pakistani government considers members of the Ahmadi sect to be heretics, and forbids the country’s four million Ahmadis from holding themselves out as Muslims or calling their worship places ‘mosques’.  Ahmadis believe that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, a 19th century Punjabi cleric, was the second coming of the Messiah.

The Bishop of Lahore, the Rt. Rev. Alexander Malik condemned the “murderous attacks” on the “worship places of a minority community.”

Bishop Malik said “such terrorism is a heinous crime against humanity and a serious conspiracy against Pakistan. We, as a nation, should unite together to defend our beloved country Pakistan and the defeat of all kinds of terrorism.”

Taliban releases Christian hostages in Pakistan: CEN 7.13.08 July 13, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Al Qaeda, Church of England Newspaper, Church of Pakistan, Islam, Persecution.
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Sixteen Christians kidnapped by the Taliban in Pakistan ’s North West Frontier Province have been released unharmed. However, a further 16 hostages taken at gunpoint on June 21 from a prayer meeting in Peshawar remain in captivity.

Humphrey Peters, General Secretary of the Church of Pakistan, said Christians along the North West Frontier are “now living in terror and do now know what will happen next.”

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

Taliban releases Christian hostages in Pakistan

Christians kidnapped in Pakistan are released: CEN 1.18.08 p. 8. January 20, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Al Qaeda, Church of England Newspaper, Church of Pakistan, Crime.
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FIVE Christian men kidnapped by the Taliban in Waziristan have been released unharmed. Sources in Peshawar tell The Church of England Newspaper the five were released on Jan 7 following negotiations with government and church
leaders.

An aide to Peshawar Bishop Mano Ramalshah, Mr Yaqub Sahotara, said the five had been seized by suspected Taliban insurgents while driving to Dera Ismail Khan near Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan.

Taliban leader Baitullah Mahsud had demanded the release of six of his jailed lieutenants in return for the safe release of the Christians. It is not known what terms were agreed for the men’s release.

Mahsud has been named by the government of President Pervez Musharraf as the leader of the group that assassinated PakistanPeople’s Party (PPP) leader Benazir Bhutto.

Australian plea for Islamic terrorists in Indonesia: CEN 11.09.07 p 8. November 9, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Al Qaeda, Anglican Church of Australia, Church of England Newspaper, Free Speech, Islam.
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THE ARCHBISHOP of Melbourne has urged the Indonesia government to spare the life of three Islamist terrorists, sentenced to death for their part in the 2002 Bali bombings.

Dr Philip Freier has joined the Islamic Friendship Association of Australia in a petition asking Indonesia to grant clemency to the convicted Bali bombers as well as to six Australians sentenced to death for heroin trafficking.

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

Australian Archbishop in clemency plea

Leading Philosopher says Christian Pacifism is the only road to peace: CEN 11.02.07 p 8. November 1, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Al Qaeda, Arms Control/Defense/Peace Issues, Church of England Newspaper.
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rene-girard.jpgCivilization has entered into a period of continuous warfare philosopher Rene Girard said last week in an interview with a French magazine, which will only be ended by a conscious turn towards Christian pacifism.

“The era of wars is over: from now on war exists everywhere. Our era is one of universal action. There’s no longer any such thing as an intelligent policy. We’ve almost reached the end,” Girard said in an interview with Le Point magazine.

The bombing of the World Trade Towers on Sept 11, 2001 ushered in a new phase of history, he said. “Today’s terrorism still has to be thought through, because we haven’t yet grasped that a terrorist is ready to die in order to kill.”

What is new, he suggested “in relation to Western heroism is that suffering and death are called for, if necessary by experiencing them oneself. The Americans made the mistake of ‘declaring war’ on Al Qaeda, without knowing whether Al Qaeda exists at all.”

A member of the Académie française and professor emeritus at Stanford University, Girard is best known for his theories of mimetic desire: that man learns to desire by watching the desire of others: and of scapegoats, which he says found, preserve, and unify culture. In recent years Girard’s work has had a strong impact on theology. His work has taken an avowedly Christian turn and has been cited with approval by theologians including the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams.

The present conflict with terrorism threatened civilization “with death,” he argued. Not because the terrorists might win, but because of the response they would elicit from the Christian West.

Violence would provide but a short term solution and leave the West “in the position of Louis XV: « Après moi, le déluge ».”

The message of Judeo-Christianity, Girard told Le Point was that “if we do not reconcile ourselves, there are no more sacrificial victims to save us the skin. The offer of the kingdom of God is reconciliation or nothing. Unfortunately, we are making the second choice by ignorance and idleness.”

The only hope for the future was to “refuse any violence, all reprisals. I am not sure that we are capable of it, but the Gospels say that it is the only way out.”

Convicted Al Qaeda Terrorist Converts to Christianity: CEN 10.19.07 p 9. October 19, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Al Qaeda, Church of England Newspaper.
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florencesupermax.jpgConvicted Al-Qaida terrorist Ramzi Yousef has converted to Christianity according to a report broadcast by the US television newsmagazine “60 Minutes”.  In a broadcast aired on Oct 14, CBS reported that Yousef, jailed for detonating a truck bomb under New York’s World Trade Center towers in 1993, has shaved his beard, stopped reading the Koran, and now eats pork.

The nephew of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, Yousef is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole at the US Federal “supermax” maximum security prison in Florence, Colorado. The Colorado prison is home to the US’s most notorious criminals including Al Qaeda hijacking plotter Zacarias Moussaoui, shoe bomber Richard Reid, “Unabomber” Theodore Kaczynski and Soviet spy Robert Hanssen.

Robert Hood, who served as warden of the prison from 2002 to 2005, told CBS he did not believe Yousef had converted. “He’s playing a game with someone,” he said.

Canon’s Iraq Exit: CEN 7.13.07 July 13, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Al Qaeda, Church of England Newspaper, Episcopal Church in Jerusalem & the Middle East, Iraq.
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Security concerns have forced the return to Britain of the vicar of Baghdad, Canon Andrew White. Credible evidence that Canon White would be kidnapped by Islamist extremists prompted the British embassy in Baghdad to fly him out of country on Tuesday.

Canon White reported he had been given a hint from an Iraqi al-Qaida leader of forthcoming terror attacks in the UK, now understood to have been the doctors’ bomb plot in London and Glasgow.

Last month Canon White working with the Iraqi government and the US Department of Defense convened the largest Iraqi religious congress held in 40 years. The Baghdad religious congress brought together the country’s leading Shia and Sunni clerics and produced a document calling for reconciliation between the country’s religious factions, disarming of private militias and support for the democratically elected government.

Chilling Message that Predicted Bomb Plots: CEN 7.06.07 p 1. July 5, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Al Qaeda, British Foreign Policy, Church of England Newspaper, Episcopal Church in Jerusalem & the Middle East, Iraq.
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Hints that an al-Qaeda doctors’ plot to attack Britain were being planned were given to the vicar of Baghdad, Canon Andrew White in May.

In an email to supporters from Baghdad dated July 3, Canon White, the executive director for the Foundation for Reconciliation and Relief in the Middle East and vicar of St George’s Memorial Church in Baghdad, stated that “just over
two months ago” he had informed his supporters in the West “that I had the worst meeting of my life. I said I have seen the Devil today.”

He went on: “I met this awful man in Amman,” Jordan, who he called the Devil’. “I even refused to continue the meeting and told the Sheikh who had brought him to me never to let me meet him again,” he wrote.

The ‘Devil’ told Canon White “that they were going to start killing in the UK then the USA. One sentence I remembered but did not understand was ‘those who cure you will kill you’.”

Canon White stated he did not comprehend the meaning of the phrase at that time, but in light of the attacks in Glasgow and arrest of several foreign doctors allegedly behind the plot “those terrible words ‘those who cure you will kill you’
suddenly made sense.”

The ‘Devil’, Canon White subsequently learned was an Iraqi Sunni living in Syria and a senior al-Qaeda leader. Details of the meeting were passed to the Foreign Office, he said.

It remains the worst meeting that I have ever had. I hope I never have one like it again,” Canon White stated.

Converts Receive Death Threats: CEN 6.01.07 p 7. May 31, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Al Qaeda, Church of England Newspaper, Episcopal Church in Jerusalem & the Middle East, Iraq.
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Al-Qaeda has issued a death threat to Christian converts in Kurdistan the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports.

“We are hunting those who have converted to Christianity or Zoroastrianism as we consider them renegades and God’s punishment must be implemented by killing them,” the Islamist terrorist group said in a statement released on the internet on April 22.

Al-Qaeda urged Kurds to join the “Mujahedin and hoist the jihad flag against the crusaders who are occupying Iraq, instead of supporting them.”

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

‘Fighting terror is like fighting crime, not another army’: JP 9.28.06 September 28, 2006

Posted by geoconger in Al Qaeda, British Foreign Policy, Jerusalem Post.
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“Fighting terror is rather like fighting crime, not like fighting another army,” Vice-Premier Shimon Peres told a London think tank on Wednesday in a speech urging a strategic re-thinking of Israel’s military and economic priorities.

“Neither force nor diplomacy can resolve the long-standing tensions in the region as peace would come through sustained economic growth,” Peres told the Royal Institute for International Affairs (Chatham House).

Read it all in the Jerusalem Post.